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Should you have a mentor? Probably.

When considering a mentor, it is first important to get to the foundation of what exactly we mean by “mentoring.” Mentoring is a personal relationship in which a more experienced (usually older) mentor acts as a guide, role-model, and sponsor of a less experienced (usually younger) protégé.

Mentors provide protégés with knowledge, advice, challenge, counsel, and support in their pursuit of becoming full members of a profession as well as becoming effective leaders. This is different from “coaching” which normally refers to shorter term relationships to seek and acquire often technical skills though at times coach can well become a mentor.

I firmly believe most people particularly when embarking on a new career path can benefit markedly from having a mentor. This is particularly true from young people who (as you can see from the definition provided) are embarking on a career in a “profession.” According to sociologists the “professions” include the military, law (to include lawyers as well as law enforcement), medicine, theologians, and educators. These career paths are different from other positions in society.

First, the members of a “profession” have control over an abstract body of knowledge. They are entrusted by society to develop this body of knowledge throughout their careers when they as the professions custodians. Doctors and medical researchers are expected to continue their development as medical professionals during their career while seeking better methods to treat injury and disease.

Second, members of a profession are entrusted by society with a certain degree of autonomy over who may enter the profession as well as determining who has violated the norms of the profession and must lose their “license to practice.” Doctors, military officers, and theologians swear oaths. If they are determined to be operating outside what is acceptable they lose their license, are court-martialed, or are defrocked.

Finally, those who enter a profession are motivated to provide an essential service to society that is critical for society to operate, develop, and survive. Obviously, we all believe that the external security provided by the military is critical, medical personnel treat our ailments, theologians comfort us in our moments of need, and we need a legal system that includes law enforcement if society is to function.

Consequently, I believe that those entering a profession have a heightened need for mentors to insure they fully understand its norms, standards of practice, and are encouraged to continue their professional development.


Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

Leadership Found and Fought at the Alamo

Some historians regard the Mexican defeat in the Texas Revolution as among the most influential developments in the emergence of the United States as a hemispheric and, eventually, a world power.

The Diamond6 Alamo Leadership Study offers thought-provoking insights from a battle and campaign that seem familiar—but are not generally well understood. On-the-ground study of this Revolution opens up discoveries that can benefit today’s leaders as they grapple with unpredictable change, inter-cultural influences, powerful personalities, a highly volatile environment, and competing stakeholder aims.

The chaotic conditions in Texas and Mexico in 1836 presented leaders on both sides with wickedly complex challenges. In San Antonio both groups operated at the far end of their range of influence. Misunderstandings of the situation and of the opposition’s aims and qualities forced Samuel Houston, Travis, and David Bowie on the Texian side and Santa Anna and his political and military aides on the other to guess and improvise almost every day.

For the Anglo-Tejano rebels, unexpected attacks on their legal rights, uncontrolled influx of American adventurers, and economic penalties imposed by Santa Anna’s government provoked an ill-organized, mutually suspicious resistance. Disagreements over the question of independence or reform and disputed leadership at state level put Travis and Bowie in a tough, risky position in San Antonio early in the year. Their Tejano partners, led by Navarro and Seguin, faced choices that were doubly hard. In both groups a mistaken conception of Santa Anna’s intention and abilities led them to dangerously false assumptions and compelled rebel leaders to make snap decisions that had decisive effects.

On the other side, Santa Anna saw the resistance in Texas as yet another instance in a long line of Yankee incursions into Mexico. Insecure in power and dealing with opposition in Mexico City and in other states, he had to force a quick decision. His response was ingenious in some respects but deeply flawed in others. The leadership environment he imposed on his army and government played a central part in the contest’s outcome and is notably useful for study today.

The perceptions of observers on all sides constrained their choices and created problems analogous to those that leaders face today. The neutral citizens of Mexico, the population and government of the United States, several European powers, and the Native American tribes of the region all figured in the choices that the opposing leaders had to make.

San Antonio became a decisive point for both sides, unwittingly for the rebels and deliberately for Santa Anna. In the Alamo Leadership Study, participants examine how the actions of Travis and Santa Anna brought on a crisis for both sides. Diamond 6’s expert historians and authorities on leadership theory assist them in developing new ideas about the case itself and about the application of leadership principles to current problems. Past participants from both the private and public sectors have enhanced their leader skills individually and as teams through this event.


Don Holder is an independent consultant on leadership, Joint Force and Army doctrine, and training.  As one of six Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) Senior Mentors, he coached commanders of Army corps, divisions and brigades in advanced training exercises.  He advises doctrine writers and force designers on future operations and lectures on theater operations at foreign and US service schools.

THIS is More Important Than Leadership Development…

I’m going to let you in on a secret about Diamond6….

Even though the word “leadership” is in our name, we often consider it secondary to a much more important topic – your health. Let me explain.

When I ask you to visualize a hardworking, successful leader what do you see?

This?

 

 

 

 

Or this?

 

 

 

 

 

My guess is picture number one.

The expectation is that to be effective, successful and respected by colleagues and subordinates a leader should be doing something all the time. Days are full of meetings, phone calls, emails and 24/7 accessibility. Every moment of the day must be filled or else we aren’t working hard enough. “No rest for the weary!” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” are all too common phrases that we hear – either from others or we tell ourselves.

Our lives are hectic, there’s no doubt about that. Technology makes us accessible no matter where we are or what time it is, causing work time to flow over into our personal time. Who hasn’t checked work email at dinner or been on a conference call during soccer practice?

We know that putting aside time for health and self-care is important. But, we don’t make it a priority like we do work-related tasks. Habits like exercising, eating well, drinking plenty of water, and spending time outside are squeezed into whatever open space may be left in an already overflowing calendar. If we do make time for, or prioritize self-care it often comes with feelings of guilt and shame. Guilt for making ourselves a priority and shame because we’re afraid what others might think. “She should be working on that big report instead of going for a walk!”

The Rippe Health Assessment Study of Senior Executives found that senior executives are at a higher risk for heart disease and are more inclined to having elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. This study further concluded that 73 percent of the executives who participated were not active enough, and nearly 40 percent were obese.

This study was conducted by Dr. James Rippe, associate professor of medicine (cardiology) at Tufts University School of Medicine and founder/director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and Rippe Health Assessment. In response to the results, Dr. Rippe said, “The critical levels of risk factors for heart disease among senior executives affect everyone in the business world, from employees to stockholders.  And because risk factors multiply each other in relation to the risk of heart disease, an overweight, inactive senior executive is something that no American company can afford.”

I would add that inactive, sick employees is also something your organization cannot afford.

If you are not regularly practicing self-care habits you are doing a disservice to yourself, your organization and those you lead. A sick, tired, and stressed leader will be ineffective, making all other knowledge about leadership completely obsolete. This is why we believe that your health is of utmost importance.

All leaders must lead by example. This cannot be more true than when it comes to the health of the people in your organization. When others see you practicing self-care habits it gives them permission to do the same for themselves.

Here are three self-care habits you can start TODAY and lead others to taking care of themselves as well.

  1. Walk: Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for a variety of cancers, as well as type 2 diabetes. And, more than half of our waking hours are spent sitting. Walking meetings are a great way to incorporate movement into your day, while still getting work done and getting others motivated to move. For example; set aside an hour once a week for your walking meeting and put it on your calendar. Let colleagues know if they wish to discuss something with you they are welcome to join you for your walk. Encourage others to follow suit and schedule walking meetings into their calendars as well.
  2. Drink: It seems simple enough, but most of us don’t drink enough water. My recommendation is to drink half your weight in ounces. For example; if you weigh 150 lbs you should be drinking 75 ounces of water each day. To get others on board with drinking water make sure to bring your water to meetings or offer a bottle of water to anyone who comes into your office. Make sure employees have access to clean drinking water by providing a water cooler or water fountain close by.
  3. Learn: The wonderful part of being in an office setting is that you have built in teammates. Learning together about health and wellness is a great way to get motivated and consequently hold each other accountable to practicing new self-care habits. It can also foster team building, compassion and awareness for one another. Reach out to a local health expert to conduct a “Lunch and Learn” class or bring in a yoga instructor once a week to do a short stretching class.

Check out my upcoming webinar!

During this class I will share a step by step guide for making lasting changes to the way you eat, my favorite clean-eating staples and much more! Click the image below to reserve your spot. 

Of course, I encourage you to lead by example and share this class with your team, colleagues or organization! I look forward to speaking with you then.


Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

Many Generations in the Workplace

With so many generations in the workplace, how do you find common ground to work optimally together?

Currently there are four generations in the workplace.  They are:

  • WW II generation (born before 1943)
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1944 and 1963)
  • Generation X (born between 1964 and 1984)
  • Gen Y or Millennials (born between 1985 and 2005)

Research has shown that each generation views work and careers differently though many experts disagree on the degree to which their perspective vary.  Furthermore, it is necessary to realize that this is at best imprecise, and those born on or around a so-called boundary years (i.e. 1963 between Boomers and Xers) might very well be inclined to be with one generation or the other.

I believe it is still important for effective leaders to be aware of these potential differences in perspective if they are going to maximize performance and fully understand how different members of the team may approach a problem or work/life balance.   This is also not an “airy fairy” effort to achieve an artificial diversity goal but can be of value to any team for a number of reasons.

  • An expansion of the number of creative ideas available to you
  • Better contacts with your customer or client base
  • Access to a wider range of problem solvers
  • Reduction in tensions and hostilities across demographic and generational lines
  • An increased appreciation of different people, ideas, and general respect for others

Research has shown that perhaps the biggest factor in working across the “divide” is establishing trust with each other across generational lines.  This may often times require a good deal of listening by the leader to determine why and how alternative approaches are proposed.  For example, in general, Boomers tend to value competence. Xers value relationship/communication and seem to have a greater need for open discussion.

Probably the best place for the leader to start is to get the team to focus on what they agree on.  It is also important to keep in mind that other factors affect how individuals confront problems and work effectively on teams.  It should not be surprising to learn that generally men and women often have different perspectives of what leaders do and how they do it.  The literature further suggests culture also influences individual perceptions, roles and identities. Surveys of cross-generational teams also indicates that in addition to culture, gender, age, and education are important, and these factors influence each other. If you only look at one factor, it may lead you to mistaken conclusions.

It is critical to keep in remember that not every member of generation is “that way”.  Failing to keep this in mind can potentially create biases in dealing with other generations.  Finally, it is useful to keep in mind the words of Winnie the Pooh!  What makes me different…is what makes me….Me!

-Dr. Jeff McCausland

Great Organizations Do Small Things Well

Great Organizations Do Small Things Well — Find the Long Snapper

I have been thinking about what do great organizations do that differentiate them from good organizations, and there are a number of things. But one that sticks out to me is that great organizations do small things very well. Let me give you an example that I observed while watching the end of the 2016 college football season.

By any measure you would have to accept that the University of Alabama football team is successful at what they do despite losing in the NCAA football championships to Clemson University earlier this year. The Crimson Tide have won 16 national championships including four in the last eight years. They have made more bowl appearances (64) than any other team in NCAA history. Alabama has won 30 conference titles and had 11 undefeated seasons. Currently, there are 24 committed recruits to the Alabama football program in 2017. Five are ranked number one in the nation at their position, including Thomas Fletcher from Washington State. Thomas graduated from the prestigious IMG Academy and is a long snapper. [1]

Now for those of you who may not be football aficionados, a long snapper is a center who only snaps the ball on punts. This means he will likely only be on the field for seven or eight plays per game. But those plays are often crucial. Place kickers have gotten better and now may attempt field goals from well over forty yards. Consequently, punts normally occur when a team remains in their own territory. A badly handled snap can result in disaster. The long snapper must snap the ball between his legs and send it approximately fifteen yards in 0.75 seconds. He must do this accurately and repeatedly during some of the most pressure packed moments of a football game. Furthermore, he knows that as soon as he snaps the ball he is going to be hit by at least one (if not more) 300 pound defensive lineman.

After years of success, clearly Alabama’s head football coach is leaving little to chance and will consistently bring in the best players he can. But many Division 1 teams still rely on a walk-on or fourth string player who is still learning to become their long snapper. But Saban wants to insure that his organization has every advantage as they confront their competition — and all leaders can take a lesson from this. This is not encouragement to micro-manage but rather the need for successful leaders to try and “see around corners,” think a little out of the box, and encourage their team members by their actions to be thorough and relentless in the pursuit of perfection in what each does for the overall success of the team. If the leader stresses the need to “find the long snapper” then the entire team will focus on what are the small things that can potentially make a difference.

If you still find this unconvincing, consider the following: Where did Nick Saban acquire his relentless focus on insuring his team did small things well?  He was mentored by a master, Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots. Saban worked under Belichick from 1991 to 1994. Last year Belichick stunned many in the NFL when the Patriots selected a long snapper in the fifth round of the NFL draft. 

But if you’re still not buying this idea, I suggest you simply call the Atlanta Falcons and ask them their opinion.

-Dr. Jeff McCausland

[1] Sam Borden, “An Upside-Down Priority”, New York Times, December 26, 2016, p. D1.

Interview with Jeff McCausland at a D6 Pearl Harbor Workshop

In January, Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy CEO Jeff McCausland traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii, with a group of college students. Their trip came only a month after the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and they planned to use the attack as a case study from which they could draw important leadership lessons. 

Below is a brief interview that was conducted with Jeff during the workshop that gives an overview of how he conducted this seminar, which gives some insight to the many other workshops D6 teaches as well.

Tell us about your approach.

Jeff: Over my time teaching, I’ve used historical case studies to examine enduring concepts of leadership and organizational theory, whether that’s thinking about strategy or emotional intelligence. I firmly believe these are very effective case studies because people find them interesting and you can use the history then to see where those particular principals and concepts are illustrated positively and negatively.

Many I’ve used have a military context because I’m retired military. I’ve used the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania, Yorktown in Virginia, the Nixon Library in Los Angeles, the Alamo in San Antonio and over the past few years I’ve used Pearl Harbor.

Are there specific leadership ideas that you’re teaching here at Pearl Harbor?

We’ll talk about organizational culture, organizational change, innovation, strategic vision, team building, effective communications, and those are just the emotional intelligence portion. We’ll talk about all of those concepts and use events and anecdotes from the actual attack on Dec. 7, 1941 on Pearl Harbor to illustrate that within a historical case study. And we’ll look at the good and the bad.

I like to emphasize that this is an iconic moment to come here because we just passed the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

What’s an important lesson learned at Pearl Harbor?

When you see the world changing, good leaders have to examine, as part of an organization – whether it’s the United States military at Pearl Harbor or Microsoft or AT&T – the following question: what are the implicit and explicit assumptions that are guiding our investments and our strategy for the future? Where do we want to go? Where is the world going? Where should we be investing people, money and time? In the 1930s people said we’re going to invest in building big coastal artillery defenses and put lots of guns out there. In 1941, that became pretty irrelevant.

This interview was conducted by Chaminade University of Honolulu Senior Communications Writer Kapono Ryan in Honolulu, Hawaii. It has been condensed and edited by Diamond6.

Leading During a Crisis: Overcoming Obstacles and Keeping Calm

OB-DE821_billge_D_20090224183025It seems like we are surrounded by crises. Sometimes they are private troubles and other times we worry about a problem we aren’t directly connected to. In mental health terms, a crisis refers not necessarily to a traumatic situation or event, but to a person’s reaction to an event. One person might be deeply affected by an event, while another individual suffers little or no ill effects. As we consider crises it may be useful to remember that the Chinese word for crisis summarizes its components. The word crisis in Chinese is formed with the combination of two characters — danger and opportunity. A crisis presents an obstacle, trauma, or threat, but it also presents leaders an opportunity for either growth or decline.

We often think of a crisis as a sudden unexpected disaster, such as a car accident, natural disaster, or other cataclysmic event. However, crises can range substantially in type and severity. Sometimes a crisis is a predictable part of the life cycle.  Situational crises are sudden and unexpected, such as accidents and natural disasters. Existential crises are inner conflicts related to things such as life purpose, direction, and spirituality.

All leaders know that their organization will undergo crises. They must prepare plans and processes that “inoculate” as much as possible their organization from its worst effects. This includes plans for immediate crisis action, leader succession, communications, etc. Next, good leaders must realize that all members of the organization will look to them for both direction and encouragement. Finally, leaders must realize that their organization will not be the same after the crisis. They must demonstrate caring and set a new course for the future. A critical part of this is to take the time to confront a difficult question: “What can we learn from this experience no matter how difficult that will make us a better organization in future?”

Finally, it may be helpful to consider an old phrase from World War II — “Keep calm and carry on”. This was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War. It was intended to raise the morale of the British public in the aftermath of widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities. Oddly, the poster had only limited distribution with no public display, and thus was little known. The poster was rediscovered in 2000, and since then has been widely used throughout the United Kingdom. During the preparation for the Olympic Games it was reissued — “Keep calm and carry on…it’s only the Olympics!

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Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.
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Day of Infamy: Leadership Lessons from the Attack on Pearl Harbor

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

-President Franklin Roosevelt in his speech to Congress.

“I am afraid we have awakened a sleeping giant.”

-Admiral Yamamoto, Commander of the Japanese attack force

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Every American, no matter their age, conjures up a mental image of the attack on Pearl Harbor when they hear the date December 7. Today, we commemorate the 75th anniversary. This attack was a turning point in the history of our nation and the world. The war that followed lasted nearly four years, and the entire nation mobilized to meet this challenge. But ultimately it was leadership at all levels, exhibited initially on this Sunday morning in Hawaii that allowed America to be successful.

The actions of leaders on both sides of this historic battle made the difference in the events on that day — for better or for worse — and arguably set the conditions that determined the course of World War II. It is no overstatement to say that Pearl Harbor on the beautiful island of Hawaii proved to be one of the most important and intense “leadership laboratories” in the history of modern warfare.

As we reflect on the courage and sacrifice of the brave servicemen on that day, what can we discern about the actions of their leaders? And what can we learn about leadership in a complex, rapidly evolving, high-pressure environment like the one we are living and working in today? While there are innumerable leadership lessons that can be drawn from this event let me use three examples.

Leaders must act in a crisis and feel empowered to act. The battle actually began at 0342 that morning. The minesweeper USS Condor detected a periscope at the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The captain of the Condor sent a message to the USS Ward, a destroyer on patrol in the harbor. Sighted submerged submarine on westerly course, speed 9 knots.

The Ward was commanded by Lieutenant William Outerbridge. He had assumed command on December 5, but still immediately ordered his ship to engage what turned out to be a Japanese mini-submarine that was attempting to enter the harbor.

All leaders will face a “crisis” at one point or another and several factors are important. First, crises demand that organizations have developed solid leadership and organizational preparation. Second, leading in a crisis takes more than just common sense. Leaders must establish a climate that allows those they lead to make decisions, fail, and grow. Third, it is critical that everyone in the organization even the newest person feels empowered to act.

Lieutenant Outerbridge’s quick actions are consistent with each of these.

Leaders must challenge assumptions particularly during changing times. The Army-Navy game in 1941 was played on November 29 in Philadelphia Municipal Stadium. Navy would defeat Army 14-6. The program for the game contained a full-page picture of a battleship and noted that it had “never been successfully attacked from the air.” The Pearl Harbor attack began at 0755 eight days later. Within 10 minutes half the battleships were badly damaged. The battleship was no longer the centerpiece of what 20th-century navies were all about.

Leaders must promote organizational resilience. The United States suffered 2,335 dead and 1,178 wounded on December 7. Over 180 aircraft were destroyed and 18 ships badly damaged or sunk. This included eight battleships, three cruisers, and four other vessels. It was perhaps the worst military defeat in American history. But all the American aircraft carriers were at sea.

America recovered quickly. Four months after the attack (18 April 1942) sixteen B25 bombers took off from the USS Hornet and conducted a bombing raid on Tokyo. On June 4, 1942 the American and Japanese fleets fought perhaps the most important battle of the war in the Pacific near Midway Island. Japanese Admiral Yamamoto sent four of his carriers to draw out the American fleet and hopefully destroy the carriers. But in the ensuing battle, the Japanese lost all four of their carriers while the US Navy lost won.

This can also be illustrated in the American industry’s reaction to Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941 the US Navy had eight aircraft carriers and 112 submarines. At the end of the war the Navy would have 140 carriers and 214 submarines.

Scientist Brian Walker and David Salt in their book, Resilience defined it as: “the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic function and structure.” Bad things will happen, and effective leaders must insure their organizations can “bounce back.” Every ship that was part of the Japanese task force that attacked Pearl Harbor was sunk by September 1945.

As we reflect on the sacrifices of those Americans who lost their lives on December 7, 1941 let us further consider what we can learn from this iconic event that will make each of us a better leader.

Perhaps the words of former Secretary of State Colin Powell are appropriate. Leadership is the art of getting your people to accomplish more than they may think is possible.


Dr. Jeff McCausland, Founder and CEO, Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC

To Be a Better Leader, Lead Like a Guide

llag_hi-res-2A distant snow-capped mountain peak beckoning through the clouds can effectively serve as a metaphor for an organization’s vision and top-level goals.  Visualizing standing on the summit, with its promise of uncharted horizons beyond, stirs the heart and inspires people to reach as high as they can.  Inspiration alone, however, will not produce sustained or tangible change in an enterprise.  With a clear vision, a sense of purpose, a committed team, and a path to the summit identified, what happens next in both mountaineering and in organizations is largely dependent on leadership.

This explains why mountaineers and world-class guides are so often asked by company leaders to talk about how the challenges they have confronted relate to those of organizations facing their own rapidly changing business landscapes.  My new book, Lead Like a Guide:  How World-Class Mountain Guides Inspire Us to Be Better Leaders, (Praeger, 2016) includes lessons I learned from expert guides as I organized over twenty mountain climbing and trekking expeditions in countries ranging from Patagonia to Iceland to Nepal.  My research describes six key leadership strengths of guides and explains how these strengths help their clients achieve new heights – and how these same strengths can be successfully applied in business and nonprofit organizations.

THE SIX LEADERSHIP STRENGTHS OF WORLD-CLASS MOUNTAIN GUIDES

  • First, a guide rapidly establishes positive interactions with clients, which draws on emotional and social intelligence. 
  • Second, a guide accurately senses when mountain conditions call for a change in leadership style, and makes that change smoothly. 
  • Third, a guide identifies and builds on a client’s strengths, and provides a supportive space for growth and development. 
  • Fourth, a guide creates an environment of trust, imparting confidence in their own skills as a guide while also helping clients learn to trust themselves and their teammates. 
  • Fifth, a guide attends to the welfare of clients as weather or mountain conditions change, accurately assessing and managing risk in an environment of uncertainty. 
  • Finally, rather than holding a singular focus on the summit, a guide retains the ability to see the big picture throughout the journey. 

To purchase a copy of Lead Like a Guide:  How World-Class Mountain Guides Inspire Us to Be Better Leaders, click here.


Chris Maxwell is a Senior Fellow, Center for Leadership and Change Management, at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Chris previously taught “Leadership and Communication in Groups” at the Wharton School and directed a wide variety of domestic and international leadership development programs in remote areas of North America, Mexico, Patagonia, Peru, Quebec, and Iceland.